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Fisheries Service Introduces New Public Input Process To Encourage Citizen Engagement
The Maryland Department of Natural Resources (DNR) Fisheries Service is making it easier and more efficient for the public to share their thoughts and ideas on potential fisheries regulations.
“The previous process, which has been in use since 2007, has not been as effective as it could be,” said DNR Fisheries Director, Tom O’Connell. “We are optimistic that these changes will help our stakeholders stay better informed and make it easier for them to participate in the decision-making process.”
In the past, DNR would post draft regulation proposals online, announce public meetings to the press and then present the proposals at three public meetings each year. The concept was developed so that citizens could use the mainstream news and web documents to learn about proposed regulations and voice their ideas and opinions at public scoping meetings.
While participation in the online process has become more effective, attendance at the public meetings has declined sharply. Because of expense, effort and response, such meetings are no longer merited.
To accommodate everyone, DNR’s new, expanded process will provide opportunities to gain information and get involved, via:
- Traditional news distribution through mainstream media outlets
- Email outreach to keep stakeholders informed - dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/emailcontact.asp.
- Social media outreach through Facebook and Twitter
- Public meetings organized to address particularly controversial issues.
- Online forums hosted by Fisheries staff to encourage discussion and collect comments concerning specific issues.
- Publication in special interest and regional outlets
The Department continues to work with the Fisheries Advisory Commissions and appropriate State-sponsored work groups to develop regulatory ideas. DNR depends on the commissioners and work group representatives to reach out to their constituents to help spread awareness and assist with gathering input.
DNR’s ultimate goal is to ensure that the public is aware of and educated about potential regulatory changes, and that citizens have ample time and resources to provide input before formal proposals are submitted to the Maryland legislature for consideration and approval.
Proposed regulations can be found at dnr.maryland.gov/fisheries/regulations/draftregulations.asp.
To subscribe to the DNR Fisheries regulatory information email list, visit dnr.state.md.us/fisheries/emailcontact.asp.
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